Most Americans Think Trump is Racist

57% of American adults, more than 80% of blacks, 75% of Hispanics, and nearly half of whites believe their President is racist.


AP (“AP-NORC Poll: Most Americans say Trump is racist“):

More than half of Americans, including large majorities of blacks and Hispanics, think President Donald Trump is a racist. More than half think his policies have made things worse for Hispanics and Muslims, and nearly half say they’ve made things worse for African Americans.

According to a new poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 57 percent of Americans think Trump’s policies have been bad for Muslims, and 56 percent think they’ve been bad for Hispanics. Forty-seven percent, including three-quarters of blacks, think they’ve been bad for African Americans.

Fifty-seven percent of all adults, including more than 8 in 10 blacks, three-quarters of Hispanics and nearly half of whites, said they think Trump is racist. Eighty-five percent of Democrats consider Trump racist, but just 21 percent of Republicans agree.

I suppose it’s good news, at least, that only 21 percent of Republicans think their President is a racist. The bad news is that most of those probably think that’s a good thing.

While whites are still the overwhelming majority of the population, almost 18% of us are Latino and 13% African American. It is, to say the least, highly problematic to have nearly a third of the citizenry think they’re led by a man who hates them.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Public Opinion Polls, Race and Politics, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. SKI says:

    I suppose it’s good news, at least, that only 21 percent of Republicans think their President is a racist

    Alternatively, it is sad news as just further confirmation that most Republicans think they live in a world that is fact-free and untethered by reality.

    Or, from another bad perspective, most Republicans don’t think he is “racist” as that, from their perspective, only applies to those with active membership in the KKK up to and including wearing hooded white robes in public and burning crosses.




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  2. Kathy says:

    From limited interactions with Trump supporters, I get the sense they want to be able to openly discriminate against whatever groups they want as much as they want, but don’t want to be called racist, misogynist, homophobic, etc.

    So they regard the label but not the action as wrong. Much like they trample on the principles of liberty in favor of the symbols of it.




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  3. JohnMcC says:

    From 4 – 5 years ago: “Racial attitudes have not improved in the four years since America elected it’s first black president an AP poll shows as a slight majority of Americans now express prejudice against blacks whether or not they recognize those feelings or not.” (USAToday 27 Oct ’12)

    Slavery, Jim Crow and Manifest Destiny are part of America’s DNA. We will never be ‘innocent’ of racism. In order to make our nation as great as we wish we were, an almost-religious movement of repentance and redemption will be required. Or, another metaphor, we need to face our racism like AA requires recovering alcoholics to face their addiction.

    America is a looong road from dealing productively with the problem.




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  4. gVOR08 says:

    @Kathy: TFocus groups with Republicans have found exactly that. One of the biggest resentments of the Trump supporters is that others might think them racist. Just because they voted for a blatant racist.
    @SKI:

    most Republicans don’t think he is “racist” as that, from their perspective, only applies to those with active membership in the KKK up to and including wearing hooded white robes in public and burning crosses.

    You’re right. This points out we need better vocabulary for discussing this. “Racist” does cover a wide range of behavior and belief from “burning crosses” through Limbaugh’s, ‘I treat blacks equally but race is at fault for everything’ through Charles’ Murray’s faux intellectual “The Bell Curve” through voting for Trump to treating your black neighbors and coworkers respectfully while regarding yourself as virtuous for doing so. I’ve never met anyone who thinks himself a racist, everyone believes they have a realistic view of race, whether true or not. If we describe white nationalists as beyond the pale for being “racist’ we do no good tactically by also labeling a Trump voter as “racist”. We need to make some distinctions based on degree.




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  5. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Kathy:

    One arguing tactic I’ve frequently notice is that when something is called racist is to say that a lot of people feel that way, as though something can’t be racist and popular.




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  6. MarkedMan says:

    @JohnMcC:

    We will never be ‘innocent’ of racism.

    Personally, I don’t think this is as bad as you make it out. If you read literature, news reports, etc from pre-WWI, very much including scientific studies, racism was much more prevalent and more ingrained. Further, there were a heck of a lot more races than we recognize today, with incredibly fine distinctions made between them. There were actual discussions in scientific journals as to whether, in view of the work of Darwin, Irish and Southern Italians should be considered more closely related to humans or apes. There were endless studies and papers examining the average brain volume of hundreds of different races, with the assumption that minute variations translated into “higher” or “lower” races. And up until post WWII it was accepted that “superior” races had the right to conquer and subjugate “inferior” ones. Just read some of the handwringing as the British Empire collapsed. And it wasn’t limited to conservatives or nationalists, support for eugenics (the belief that people from inferior groups needed to be kept from breeding) was common amongst the entire political spectrum.

    And in comparison to the non-west, America has come quite a long way. The Japanese ministry of health has created an “educational” film shown to Medical Device and Pharmeceutical company officials describing why the Japanese race is so different and pure that results of clinical trials on other people need to be re-run in Japan. (To be clear, this is 99%) nonsense. Spend much time with even western educated people from non-western countries and eventually you will hear all kinds of things about “The Kurds”, “The Blacks”, “The Jews”. They aren’t talking about culture, they are talking about intrinsic nature.

    So yes, we have a long way to go. But even in my lifetime I see a difference. And in the last 100-150 years there has been a dramatic and huge difference.

    Ta-Nahesi Coates feels differently, and makes an extremely well researched argument that can be pretty depressing. But I think that “a lot of work remains” does not equal “nothing has been accomplished”.




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  7. al-Ameda says:

    @Kathy:

    From limited interactions with Trump supporters, I get the sense they want to be able to openly discriminate against whatever groups they want as much as they want, but don’t want to be called racist, misogynist, homophobic, etc.

    It’s all out in the open now, the dog whistles are a lot less necessary than they were in the previous 18 years.

    @JohnMcC:

    Slavery, Jim Crow and Manifest Destiny are part of America’s DNA. We will never be ‘innocent’ of racism. In order to make our nation as great as we wish we were, an almost-religious movement of repentance and redemption will be required. Or, another metaphor, we need to face our racism like AA requires recovering alcoholics to face their addiction.

    America is a looong road from dealing productively with the problem.

    Exactly right. You, know prior to the 2008 election many on the Right feared that Obama would be a radical socialist, and bring people like Al Sharpton into the administration. The Reality is that Obama was, and governed as, a moderate Democrat and comported himself with a calm and measured temperament. That didn’t seem to matter to the Right, they treated him as a dangerous Black nationalist thug.




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  8. EddieInCA says:

    I, now, and pretty much since the Central Park Five, have thought Donald Trump is definitely a racist. His dad was a racist, and he taught that to his son.

    But, I’m curious as to what Dr. Joyner, and Mr. Mataconis think about this topic?

    I’ve always maintained that the GOP has become the sewer swamp it is because “reasonable” members of the GOP chose to stay silent when people like Rush, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, and the like were poisoning an entire generation of GOP Voters with fear and untruths. The current GOP is the manifestation of the silence during the courageousness of the “Swift Boat” issue, or the “Birther” issue, or the Palin Nomination, etc.

    The current GOP is a racist group, based on current actions and words, led by a racist president, in my opinion.

    Dr. Joyner, what say you?




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  9. Kylopod says:

    I suppose it’s good news, at least, that only 21 percent of Republicans think their President is a racist. The bad news is that most of those probably think that’s a good thing.

    I doubt that’s the real reason. Very, very few people in America view the term “racism” in a positive way. Even white nationalist groups generally resist the term, preferring euphemisms like “racial realism” or even “racialism.” The last time I went to Stormfront (which was years ago), its FAQ stated that one of its aims was fighting racism against white people.

    The Occam’s Razor explanation is that most of that 21% of Republicans are admitting he’s a racist and admitting it’s a bad thing–though not necessarily a deal-breaker. For example, according to CNN’s exit polls for the 2016 election, among voters who claimed to be bothered by Trump’s treatment of women, 29% voted for him. I bet if the exit polls had asked about whether he was a racist, there’d also have been a significant bloc who said yes and yet voted for him anyway. Because, like, her emails.




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  10. James Joyner says:

    @EddieInCA:

    I’ve always maintained that the GOP has become the sewer swamp it is because “reasonable” members of the GOP chose to stay silent when people like Rush, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, and the like were poisoning an entire generation of GOP Voters with fear and untruths. The current GOP is the manifestation of the silence during the courageousness of the “Swift Boat” issue, or the “Birther” issue, or the Palin Nomination, etc.

    While my thoughts on Limbaugh evolved over time, I was unequivocal about the others. I denounced the Swift Boat nuts as soon as the news broke on Drudge. Ditto the Sarah Palin nomination, earning further ire from my fellow then-Republicans when I pointed out repeatedly that she was an ignoramus.

    The current GOP is a racist group, based on current actions and words, led by a racist president, in my opinion.

    I think it’s more complicated than that. Trump is almost certainly a racist. I thought for a long time that maybe he was merely pandering to racists, which is arguably worse, but there’s enough evidence that he’s reflexively anti-pretty much everyone who isn’t white. There are certainly plenty of racists in the GOP and the GOP, without question, panders more to racists than do the Dems. But, as intimated in my quick take above, the fact that so many Trump supporters have managed to justify in their minds that he—and therefore they—isn’t/aren’t racist is meaningful. It may be delusion but I think there’s more to it than that.




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  11. Kylopod says:

    @James Joyner:

    There are certainly plenty of racists in the GOP and the GOP, without question, panders more to racists than do the Dems.

    Or, more accurately, the GOP panders to racists and the Dems simply do not. In the Bill Clinton era you could make a case that Dems were making subtle appeals to racist voters in some of the rhetoric surrounding such issues as crime and welfare–but that era’s long, long past. The Dems simply don’t do it anymore. Not only do Repubs continue to do it, they’ve become more explicit about it than ever.




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  12. Kathy says:

    In his podcast Revisionist history, Malcolm Gladwell did a very interesting piece on Moral Licensing, as it applies to discrimination. He focused on sex discrimination against women.

    I like Gladwell, but I dial my critical thinking and skepticism up to 12 when I listen to him. He’s very persuasive, drops hints of insider or deeper knowledge, and uses other rhetorical tricks. That’s fine, but one needs to be careful.

    The theory of moral licensing is that if one does something good, it gives license to do something bad, as the good thing justifies subsequent bad behavior. For example, you skip desert once, so you figure it’s ok to skip working out this week.

    I think with Obama’s election, we saw something similar. People who thought “We can’t be racist, we elected a black man president.” Or in some quarters “There is no more racism in this country, we elected a black man president.”

    This would account for how people can be blatantly racist, yet claim there’s no racism involved. Also for the gains in popularity in the alt-right.




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  13. EddieInCA says:

    @James Joyner:

    Thank you for the response.




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  14. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy:

    I think with Obama’s election, we saw something similar. People who thought “We can’t be racist, we elected a black man president.” Or in some quarters “There is no more racism in this country, we elected a black man president.”

    And when you get down to it, Americans’ view of who they’d be willing to vote for in principle is pretty set apart from their overall opinion of each group. According to Gallup in 2015, just 7% of the country says they wouldn’t vote for a black person for president. That’s about the same as for a woman, a Hispanic, a Jew, or a Catholic. 18% said they wouldn’t vote for a Mormon, 24% for a gay person, 38% for a Muslim, 40% for an atheist, and 50% for a socialist.

    http://news.gallup.com/poll/183713/socialist-presidential-candidates-least-appealing.aspx

    Judging from this poll, Americans have about the same acceptance of blacks as they have of Catholics, and far less acceptance of Evangelical Christians. But that seems unlikely. I suspect the true percentage of Americans who wouldn’t vote for a black person is a lot higher than 7%–they’re just not ready to admit it out loud (and perhaps not even to themselves). Moreover, even acceptance of a black person in the Oval Office doesn’t necessarily signal acceptance of black people in general. There’s that story from 2008 about a canvasser who encountered a couple who announced “We’re voting for the n***er.”




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  15. al-Ameda says:

    @Kylopod:

    According to Gallup in 2015, just 7% of the country says they wouldn’t vote for a black person for president.

    But that seems unlikely. I suspect the true percentage of Americans who wouldn’t vote for a black person is a lot higher than 7%–they’re just not ready to admit it out loud (and perhaps not even to themselves).

    I suspect the number that would not vote for a Black person for president is closer to 20%. I believe that even with the relative anonymity of being polled most people do not want to tell a pollster that they’re racist.




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  16. Kylopod says:

    @al-Ameda: Yeah, it’s probably something in that range. But more to the point, even a racist might vote for a black candidate if they think it’s their only choice. If, say, Ben Carson had been the GOP nominee, I’m sure at least some of the people who had screamed about Obama as a Kenyan usurper would have voted for Carson.

    In 2008, my grandmother enthusiastically voted for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary. She told my mother that she couldn’t consider voting for Obama because he “only cares about black people.” After Obama secured the nomination, my mother asked her who she was voting for in the general election, and she said she had decided to vote for Obama even though he was a Muslim.

    I laughed when I heard this story, because it was so completely predictable based on her personality. When faced with a conflict between the immovable object of her racism and the unstoppable force of her partisanship, the unstoppable force invariably won out.




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  17. gVOR08 says:

    @EddieInCA:

    the courageousness of the “Swift Boat” issue, or the “Birther” issue, or the Palin Nomination, etc.

    I think spell check tripped you up there. But yes, and the sins of Republican politicians go way past remaining silent. They went on the FOX shows, their think tanks fed everybody talking points, they supported the Southern Strategy, they all dog-whistled, they all gerrymandered, they all supported voting restrictions. Their big example of virtue is McCain telling a crazy lady that no, Obama is not a Muslim, more than a decade ago.

    Part of our current problem is that the generation of Republican pols who went on FOX and lied has been replaced by a generation that was fed on and believed those lies. Trump prepared for running by marinating in RWNJ news, and he believes it.




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  18. gVOR08 says:

    @Kathy: I don’t follow Gladwell, but the “moral licensing” concept is interesting. Another way to look at is that conservatism as a Calvinist religion. If you’re one of the elect, that’s it, you’re in. “Good person” is something you are, not something you do. Newt Gingrich can cheat on as many wives as he wants, he’s still a good family values guy. Trump can grab whatever he wants, he’s our guy, he’s in. They regard themselves as members of the elect, so they aren’t racist, no matter their statements and actions to the contrary.




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  19. EddieInCA says:

    @gVOR08:

    Yeah… That should have been outrageousness. Damn auto correct.




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  20. Kathy says:

    @gVOR08: What you describe is tribalism, or what I call the first and most important rule of politics: it’s wrong only when the other party does it. and the corollary: it’s right only when our party does it.

    Moral licensing is more like tokenism, but spread over a whole group. That having accepted a token member of a minority or a disenfranchised, or otherwise previously excluded group, you now have the bona fides to claim immunity from even the accusation that you’re acting from ill-will towards that group or minority.

    My perception in the case of Obama, is that attitudes towards black people changed for the worse in some sectors of society, using Obama’s election as the token or excuse for doing so.

    I may be wrong about this, I have no data or presume to do a rigorous pronouncement. it’s how things look to me.




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  21. gVOR08 says:

    I was cribbing a bit of an article by one Daniel McCarthy, then editor of The American Conservative, in 2009. It struck me as a pretty good way to look at conservatives, which I view as more a psychological thing than ideological. He talks of high church v low church conservatives. High church seems irrelevant these days. Not disagreeing, thought you might find it interesting.

    And agree on Obama. Conservatives kept talking about what a horrible situation we were in, way beyond the recession, but without being able to describe it. So one was forced to conclude it was having a Black President.




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